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Birds of a Feather Miss Potential Bad Weather

September 10, 2020

Birds of a Feather Miss Potential Bad Weather

- as seen by -

Heidi Kretser Heidi Kretser

Whoosh whoosh whoosh, on a quiet morning along a meandering remote Adirondack wetland stream, a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) slowly flaps its wings to raise its lanky body off the fallen log to fly to another hunting location. I’m close enough to observe the silver, blue, and white feathers slicing through the stillness of the air.

A hundred and twenty-five years ago, the main way to observe such feathers would have been while watching the upper echelons of society pass by with the latest fashions adorned on their heads. Great egrets, roseate spoonbills, eagles, and herons were among the birds often killed for their plumage to fuel this insatiable fashion industry resulting in near extinction for many species.

The Wildlife Conservation Society played an important role galvanizing support for the passage of a myriad laws to curtail such practices including the Lacey Act of 1900, the Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act of 1913, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Watching the heron settle on a more distant log, my thoughts drift to the latter law which affords protections to these beautiful creatures by making the incidental destruction of birds and eggs illegal and subject to criminal penalties. In August, a judge overruled a proposed rule by the current administration that would allow individuals and businesses to kill migratory birds as long as the cause of death was not purposeful. This change in the law would effectively absolve BP for killing over one million birds that died because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For 125 years, WCS scientists have fought for and secured strong and lasting protections for birds. This ruling underscores the strength of these protections and ensures migratory birds can weather future threats to remain a treasured resource for millions of people who depend upon them for their well-being, quality of life, and livelihoods.

Adirondacks, US Map It


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John Stahl
September 10, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Great story and wonderful flight shot